Teenage girl drowns swimming in river outside St. Louis

July 3, 2021 GMT

BALLWIN, Mo. (AP) — Searchers have found the body of a teenage girl who went underwater and never resurfaced in a river in a state park outside of St. Louis, the Missouri Highway Patrol says.

Law enforcement and rescue agencies searched for hours and Castlewood State Park was closed to the public after the girl was reported missing Friday afternoon, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The girl was at the site with a group of other people when she was reported missing after swimming in the Meramec River, said St. Louis County Police spokesperson Sgt. Tracy Panus. The river runs through the park.

Heavy rainfall during the past week has caused area waterways to rise, adding to the need for swimmers to take extra precautions, such as wearing life jackets, Panus said.

“You can be the strongest swimmer and it doesn’t matter,” she said.

At least 17 people drowned or died in boating accidents in Missouri in June, more than during any previous June in the last decade. At least two deaths occurred in St. Louis County parks, where swimming is prohibited.